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Luka Petrović, Director, Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske

A Reliable Supplier

ERS, Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske, is the backbone of the country’s economic and social development and, as such, has a serious approach to the community, its owner, the government and consumers

Besides increasing production from renewable sources and improving energy efficiency, our business priorities include regular supplies to consumers, development of the energy sector, environmental protection, and reform and reorganisation of production.

For a quarter of a century, ERS has been playing an exceptionally important role in the development of Republika Srpska.

Elektroprivreda carries great responsibility and an obligation to provide all customers with a reliable, continuous and high quality electricity supply, respecting the principles of business competitiveness and meeting the prescribed standards. Our social responsibility is enormous and sometimes a special ballast, because it requires long-term success, serious strategy and planning. We must balance two extremes to enable the successful operation of the company: on the one hand a free market and competitive principles, and on the other hand the customer, who is the centre of our attention with his budget, which at present assumes a standard adjusted price of electricity that is far below its market value.

Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske has the lowest electricity price in the region, and this unrealistically low price has to be compensated by exports. However, the social sensitivity of this arrangement impacts the investment cycle because the company’s revenues are so low due to the massive subsidy to households that the amount that remains for investment in new projects is insufficient.

Our challenge is to finally start treating electricity as a commodity, and to invest the revenue from sales in the construction of new facilities using renewable energy sources. While our concern for consumers remains, and the price of electricity in Republika Srpska will continue to be much lower than the market price, we must move towards European principles and adopt regular standards.

Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske has the lowest electricity price in the region and we compensate for this unrealistically low price through export

All companies in the region have problems with losses in distribution. Are there any solutions for this?

Distribution losses are an important issue to which distribution companies and the system as a whole have paid close attention. We have managed to reduce network losses by about six percent in a few years by implementing measures under the Unified Operational Plan for Reducing Distribution Losses, which is an important result overall.

This reduction was realised primarily in commercial losses, which are usually due to unauthorised consumption of electricity. All electricity distribution companies, have reduced their losses to a level approved by the national energy regulator, except for Elektro Krajina, where the average annual losses are still above the approved level.

In the coming period, we need to work on reducing technical network losses, which requires considerable investment in renovating, constructing and modernizing the distribution network. The best example of success in reducing distribution losses to technically permissible limits is Elektro Doboj, which has reduced losses to the level of 5% by systematic measuring and continuous investment in the network.

ERS plans to invest 386 million KM in rehabilitating the distribution network over the next ten years. We expect that in all companies losses will be at the level of those in countries of the European Union, i.e. between 4.5% and 6%.

What are your strategic goals for the coming period? Can you tell us more about that?

At the beginning of the year, the Republika Srpska adopted the Law on Electricity and a law to regulate the gas market. This is a law that is rightly seen as a reform because, due to the high degree of harmonisation with the legislation of the European Union and directives related to the energy sector, it has made the changes binding. Our strategic goals fit with the given guidelines, i.e. to switch to green energy and eliminate coal from electricity production by 2050. We must get used to producing electricity without thermal power plants, and that is the process that awaits us over the next decade.

Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske has developed several projects based on renewable energy sources. We are already building some of them and others are being prepared; these are projects on which the growth and development of the energy sector will be based.

We have to get used to producing electricity without thermal power plants and that is what awaits us in the next decade

What exactly do you have in mind when you talk about 1.5 billion KM of investment?

ERS’ priority is to build facilities that use renewable energy sources, and this is planned in the energy sector development strategy, but also in the company’s ten-year development plan. The three-year business plan envisages investments worth 1.5 billion KM. EPRS is currently engaged in five capital projects: Dabar Hydroelectric Power Plant, Gornja Drina hydropower system, Bistrica Hydroelectric Power Plants, Hrgud wind farm and Trebinje solar power plant.

The emphasis is on continuing construction and completion of HPP Dabar with an installed capacity of 160 megawatts. We have completed preparatory works and the main works are underway. This will make a large contribution to increasing production.

For Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske, the construction of the Gornja Drina hydropower system is of exceptional importance. This will be owned 51% by Elektroprivreda Srbije and 49% by Elektroprivreda Srpske. In mid-May an official start was made on preparatory works and delegations from Serbia and Srpska attended a ceremony of laying the foundation stone. Two governments and two power companies are behind this project, and after 60 years of planning, talking and looking for investors, this project has been successfully launched and will certainly be successfully completed.

The third important hydropower facility is at Bistrica. ERS has signed a works contract worth 102 million euros with the well-known Chinese company AVIK, and the power plants will be built on a turnkey basis. ERS is also determined to invest in wind farms, and in that regard a project is ready for the Hrgud wind farm with an installed capacity of 50 megawatts. KFW Bank has provided 64 million euros for this, the money is at our disposal and at the end of this year we expect the selection of contractors.

The project for the Trebinje I solar power plant is also important. With a capacity of 73 megawatts, it will produce 100,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year for the system. This will be the largest solar park in the Balkans and of interest to a large number of investors. This is a project that required an enormous preparation, which Elektroprivreda has successfully completed.

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